Balancing long-term thinking, short-term metrics, and flexible project planning

Philanthropy News Digest

Over the past several decades, a number of different critiques of nonprofit work have emerged.  Inevitably, these critiques have a strong basis — they identify real and specific issues in how nonprofits work — but collectively they may present a problem by calling for approaches that aren’t easily reconciled. That's happening in the current moment with the tension between 1) the call of the evidence-based practice approach for rigorous evaluation and theory development; 2) the "new philanthropy" emphasis on trust-based management structures and long-term planning; and 3) the entrepreneurial approach to iterative work. Each of these perspectives brings something valuable to nonprofit work, but they don't sit easily with each other. In the work of our foundation, One Earth Future (OEF), we've developed one way of bridging these three approaches. This model may be useful for other nonprofits, if funders are willing to support it.

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